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Protecting ourselves against biological and chemical warfare

Posted on 4th December 2015 at 06:04am

In the light of recent terrorist attacks, the watch for biological and chemical weapons is top priority, as these possess the ability to cause massive harm to a large area in a short amount of time. However, recent advances and research in prevention of these types of agents have produced new methods of instant protection and treatment.

Anthrax has been of great concern since the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved two agents for Anthrax. The first, BioThrax, is an Anthrax Vaccine, which acts to immunise adults with high risk exposure to the disease caused by Bacillus anthracis. The vaccine is already in use around the world, having been administered to over 12.3 million people in nine countries. The second, Anthrasil, is a method of treatment for both adult and paediatric patients who have acutely inhaled anthrax, in conjunction with other antibacterial drugs. More than 10 million doses have been sold to the United States and other countries.

In regard to chemical agents, Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL) has been created to treat persons exposed to chemical warfare agents. RSDL acts by removing or neutralising chemical agents that have come in contact with skin within two minutes of exposure. Chemical agents include highly concentrated pesticides, such as Agent Orange used in the Vietnam Conflict in 1975. Others include tabun, sarin, soman, cyclohexyl sarin, mustard, and T-2 Toxin. RSDL is especially useful for protecting troops in the field, as it leaves a nontoxic residue on the skin and is simple to use.

With the development of these methods to combat biological and chemical warfare, the progression of protection against these agents is slowly expanding to create a safer environment for both our troops and our communities.

Kristina Dolan, Shimona Lahiri and Ian Portelli

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